Blog Tour: Stay With Me by J. Lynn

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: DRC, from the publisher
Status: Book 3 of the Wait For You companion series
Links: Wait For You review (also 4 stars)
Be With Me review (also 4 stars)

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Ink Slinger PR

At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.

But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she'd left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.

Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.

Stay With Me is a little bit different from the first three books in the Wait for You series in a couple ways. First, it's the first book in the series that diverges from the college setting. As such, the characters seem a bit more mature in this installment. Sure, Calla is pretty innocent/naive when it comes to a LOT of things, but she's dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. Secondly, JLA mentioned a few months ago that she wanted to tell a story with a primary external plot, which differs greatly from Wait for You and differs somewhat from Be With Me, both of which were heavy on the internal conflict.

That's not to say that Stay With Me didn't have its share of internal conflict. Calla is extremely self-conscious, which I think is pretty understandable. We all have our flaws, and some are more visible than others. Some, like my love handles and occasional pimple, are common flaws that society more or less accepts. Others, like Calla's facial scarring, are less common and are sometimes a source of ridicule or pity. Calla faces both in Stay With Me, but she also faces love and acceptance, which are oddly sometimes harder to accept than malice and hate. Isn't that super weird? In many ways, Calla uses her scars as a shield to keep others out of the boxed "dream" life she's created for herself. She uses her tragic past, her blemished body, her thick makeup as a barrier against any kind of vulnerability but also trust and love and friendship. I honestly don't know if Jennifer was aiming for a deep dialog on the complexity of emotional walls and the reasons we keep them or just trying to tell an entertaining and sexy story, but I think she succeeded whether or not it was intentional.

Now is normally the time when I'd talk about the hero. Well, honestly, I don't have a whole lot to say about Jax. I really, really like him. He's a Good Guy, which I LOVE. He's sweet and gentle with Calla while also being a monster of a sexy beast. He also has his imperfections, both internally and (surprise!) externally. He is charming. He makes mistakes. He says the right things but not always. He does the right thing but not always. I honestly just think every reader of Stay With Me is going to fall madly in love with him no matter what the heck I say so you really might as well just read the book and swoon for yourself!

I wasn't wild about the external conflict since involvement with gangs and drugs and crime lords just isn't something I can relate to or even truly understand. However, I really appreciate Jennifer's effort into creating a more multi-dimensional and complex contemporary romance, and I hope she keeps it up! While I didn't love the drug and especially the mommy issues storyline[s] (I think that one is a bit played out, tbh), I do think they did wonderful things to create a dynamic and round cast of characters. I liked seeing the way each character, from Calla and Jax to Reese and Nick, Roxy and Katie, Clyde and so on, responded to each situation as it arose, and every character was so utterly themselves. I think book to book the voices of some of the characters blend a bit type-wise (ie Cam, Jase, Jax, etc sound a bit too similar), but here in Stay With Me, it worked.

One thing I do like is that the setting change does allow for a change in the series. Not only did Jennifer weave Avery, Teresa, Cam, and Jase into the story in a believable and real way, but she introduced this amazing secondary cast. I think we all know where this is going. I asked Jennifer at the #NALitParty last week who the next couple would be, and she said we'd find out after Stay With Me. I had a feeling then I knew what was up. I'm helping to reveal the cover of book 4, Fall for You, in a couple weeks so yesterday, I got to read the description. I don't want to give it away since I don't think it's public yet(??), but I think readers of the series will be VERY happy. I know I am. The setting change really is good for the series. It prevents staleness. I'm pretty certain the Wait for You series was originally designed to be a trilogy so I fully approve switching things up to prevent the collegiate cycle of class-party-wash-rinse-repeat.

I think Jennfer Armentrout is a pioneer in the new adult genre. As such a well-known and successful writer of indie, small press, and traditional publishing, Jennifer has a unique perspective on writing and publishing and therefore can and does take some chances with her stories.While all the elements of her stories may not be as strictly unique as others, the way she approaches the subjects in her novels is. Her characters are all people I fell like I could know, and their troubles and triumphs both are those that I see the real people around me facing daily. And yet, even when reading Jennifer's realistic contemporary novels I feel a kind of magic that knits the elements together into something bigger and more beautiful than "just" a novel about a girl with a scar who falls in love with a boy in a bar (yeah, that rhymed and yeah, I kinda love that).

I can't say if Stay With Me is my favorite of the series since I'm absolutely in love with Cam (I think he's still my favorite guy. Pretty sure), and I love Teresa and Jase together, but I do know that I enjoyed it thoroughly. I care about the characters, and I love reading these books. That's a great success in my book! Last year, after having Jennifer's books thrown at me time and time again when I asked for recommendations from blog readers, I read one of her novels for the first time (Frigid, just fyi). Now I have read *counts* seven and a novella? I think? I am astonished at her creativity and, yes, her prolific talent, and I will definitely continue to work my way through her backlist. I very much hope she continues to take risks with her writing, and I know that I'm going to read it all.

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About the Author:

# 1 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.
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1 comment:

  1. K, so we just dialogued on Twitter. Aside from all THAT, this book has been on my mind for a while, so I went to see if you'd reviewed it and you HAD.

    I didn't like it nearly as much as the other two. I had some serious issues with Jackson so I'm trying to figure out why others... didn't. He was overly personal with Calla, who did not know him. He kept obvious secrets from her. And he allowed his ex to be way too personal with him and blamed Calla's reaction on her inexperience. He had some other redeeming qualities, but these were all traditional red flags and I was really surprised to see them often shown as qualities rather than flaws. And there were a lot of unanswered questions about his background as well.

    Contrast that with Cam and Jase. They had their flaws, but the flaws were shown as flaws and were given explanation/motivation/background that made sense. I didn't find the same with Jax.